Dr Alasdair Macfarlane

Daiches-Manning Memorial Fellow in 18th Century Scottish Studies
Dr Alasdair Macfarlane

Daiches-Manning Memorial Fellowship in 18th Century Scottish Studies, May - July 2020

Project: The Unpublished & The Unproclaimed: Contemporary Counter-Narratives to the Darien Scheme

I’m an interdisciplinary early career postdoctoral researcher primarily based in Glasgow. I received my PhD from the University of Durham in October 2018 with funding from the AHRC. My doctoral thesis ‘“A Dream of Darien”: Scottish Empire and the Evolution of Early Modern Travel Writing’ discussed separate case studies of Scottish colonisation in the seventeenth century and their domestic promotion in print to analyse the literary evolution of early travel writing and Scottish colonial rhetoric. I have a strong interest in literary hoaxes and travel accounts, and their intersection within promotional materials and periodical print directed towards the different ‘news-cultures’ and readerships which existed within the Atlantic Archipelago in the long seventeenth century.

My research at IASH combines work from a previous postdoc project for the Hakluyt Society on unpublished manuscript materials concerning the Darien Scheme, with archival research in the National Library of Scotland. The project investigates the relationship between Edinburgh’s printing presses and the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies (1695-1707), as the latter attempted to promote and settle the colony of ‘New Caledonia’ (1698-1700) on the Isthmus of Darien. I will be attempting to reconstruct the dense network of private and public communications between the Company’s Directors and the colony of New Caledonia and unravel the Directors’ relationship with contemporary print media. By highlighting the censure that the surviving settlers experienced as they attempted to publish accounts of Darien which contested the Company’s narrative of events, this project develops new avenues of scholarship on Darien around maritime news-networks, media, and Scottish print culture.

Depending on the findings of the research, I’m hopeful that this project will lead to further work on the emergence of ‘spin’ in the early stages of mass communication through a case study of the Edinburgh printworks of the late 1690s, situated within broader scholarship on Atlantic and global communication and correspondence networks.

Publications: ‘Pirates and Publicity: The Making and Unmaking of Early Modern Pirates in English and Scottish Popular Print’. Humanities. 9:1. DOI: 10.3390/h9010014